Pollution found at Norsk Hydro in Brazil

Alunorte: Alunorte Norsk HydroAlunorte: Workers leave the refinery in Alunorte, owned by Norsk Hydro. Photo: Ricardo Moraes, Reuters

More pollution found at the Norsk Hydro plant in Brazil

Additional occurrences of pollution from the Alunorte plant in Brazil, which belongs to Norsk Hydro, have been discovered. The Hydro boss is kow-towing and apologizes to the inhabitants.


At the same time, the company announces that it extends the independent review of the situation and initiates an internal audit.

– We have released untreated rain and surface water into the Pará River. It is completely unacceptable and a breach to what Hydro stands for. On behalf of the company, I would like to apologize to the local population, Government and society, says CEO of Hydro, Svein Richard Brandtzæg, in a press release issued the night before Monday CET.

New findings

Hydro has previously admitted that rain and surface water from the plant have previously been leaked in connection with a large amount of rain in the area in February.

Now, the partly state-owned company announces that other leaks have also been uncovered, something Hydro was notified of by the Brazilian Environment Authority SEMAS on March 15.

The warning points out an “unlicensed connection” between the alumina refinery Alunorte and an approved drainage channel from the nearby Albras aluminum plant, according to Hydro. The water has been released into the Pará River.

– According to the license, all rainwater and surface water from Alunorte has to go to the water treatment system. Tests carried out by SEMAS show that the water instead leaked into the canal belonging to Albras. These leaks have occurred irrespective of the heavy rainfall in February, Norsk Hydro writes in their press release.

Untreated rainwater ended up in the river

According to the company, it is untreated rainwater from the roof of a shed where coal is stored which has been leaked into the river via the channel.

– Hydro then discovered an additional supply of water into this channel from an area where it was previously stored hydrate, the press release states.

The outlet to the channel from the roof of the shed has now been blocked. Hydro is working on finding the best solution for blocking the outlet from the hydrate storage area as well.

The result of the internal review and the first results of the external review will be presented on April 9.

Additional investments

On Friday, Hydro announced that they will upgrade the water treatment plant at the aluminum refinery at a total cost of NOK 500 million.

According to the group, Alunorte’s capacity thereby increases by 50 per cent and it also strengthens the refinery’s ability to cope with extreme weather in the future.

After the first found of contaminated drinking water was found near the plant, the authorities have imposed on Hydro to halve production for the time being. Hydro owns 90 per cent of the plant and employs 2,000 workers there.

The Hydro Management was in a meeting with the Minister for Industries, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservatives), to explain about the leaks. The following day, the company issued a press release in which they apologize for the first leaks.

– We acknowledge that we need to rebuild trust by changing our attitudes, actions and how we cooperate with our neighbours, says CEO of Norsk Hydro, Svein Richard Brandtzæg.


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